If you market with newsletters, blog posts or other types of content, chances are you've panicked once or twice to come up with a topic to write about. Today, I'm here to tell you what professional writers know about writer's block.
- It happens.
- It sucks.
- It won't kill you.
Most writers have been there at one time or another (or ten). Even people as prolific as Sting, writer of a zillion songs and at least one musical, faces a dry well. In honor of his latest album dropping later this week, I share this quote I return to over and over again.
“I used to get so terrified…'what am I going to write about? I’m totally empty of ideas and inspiration.’ And then I realized after about five years of this terrible block that some of the time you have to be on ‘input.’ You just have to receive and then retransmit it and hope it comes out as something else.”
Sting on being a blocked songwriter The Rolling Stone Interviews: The 80s
If all you think about is output, your well is inevitably going to go dry.
Here are three ways you can be on input to create a fresh take on your message:
- Read Give yourself a broad reading list of books, articles and blogs. You don't have to stick to traditional business books or what others in your field are reading. I like to dive in to biography and memoir, creativity and arts. A current favorite, Hamilton The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, includes the libretto and backstory of creating the smash musical.
- Take in Art See a movie, browse a gallery, walk through a garden, wander the craft section of your favorite store. Drink in all your seeing, smelling, feeling and pay attention to reactions that arise.
- Make a Date Check in with a friend, a colleague, a neighborhood shop owner. Take a moment to meet over a cup of coffee and expose yourself to someone else's point of view.
None of these steps alone will put words on the page. But they can help you keep that topic list long and strong and your editorial calendar full to the brim. (And watch this space for more on putting topic lists and editorial calendars to work for you!)